*Results may vary from person to person
Not so long ago, Karen Illanes would have described herself as a “big girl with no motivation”. In denial about her ballooning weight, this young mother was stuck in a rut, having convinced herself that being overweight was just a burden she had to bear.
However, on her daughter’s fourth birthday, Karen finally decided that mediocrity was no longer acceptable. She knew that big lifestyle changes were needed in order for her to be the best mom she could be.
“I felt like I was failing my daughter because I had no energy and very little motivation,” Karen said. “I was always finding excuses not to do things, and I felt horrible about that. It was time to make some big changes and be a good role model for her."
Healthy lifestyle, healthy attitude
With newfound courage and determination, Karen resolved not only to get fit and healthy, but also to revive her career plans that had been put on hold while she was overweight and her daughter was little.
“I am now working toward a bachelor degree in criminology and criminal justice, and I'll eventually do law,” she explained. “If you had asked me a year ago whether this was possible, I probably would have said no. Losing weight has changed my life. These days, I am so disciplined and motivated, I know I can do anything.”
Karen has certainly come a long way, but she said the journey has actually been much easier than she expected – thanks to The Biggest Loser Club and its online diary, which enabled her to stay within her calorie range and monitor her nutritional intake.
“In terms of counting calories, the diary took all the hard work away. It helped me prepare and plan for the day, and it showed me the importance of breaking an old habit of mine: skipping breakfast."
If there was a week when I didn’t lose much weight, I was able to look at the diary to see what I did and didn’t do, and learn from it. Even now I am surprised by how much fat and calories are in some meals that appear to be healthy. It pays to be better informed.”
Karen also participates regularly in The Biggest Loser Club online forums, having developed friendships with other members. She is grateful for the support and encouragement they showed her and is now delighted to be able to support, motivate, and encourage others who are starting on their weight loss journey.
“People are looking to me for inspiration now and that makes me feel so good,” she said.
Enjoying those sexy curves
While Karen is continuing to lose weight thanks to a healthy eating plan and plenty of exercise, she is mindful that she doesn’t ever want to be “skinny”, but instead keep those feminine curves that are so admired in her South American culture.
“For me to maintain my weight, I will stick with The Biggest Loser Club. I know I could easily lose another 20 lbs, but I’m not sure that would work for me. I look at my body now and see its nice curves, and I feel sexy the way I am.”
Losing weight is liberating
Karen’s weight loss has been good for more than just her sex appeal. She reports that, since joining The Biggest Loser Club, her grades have improved dramatically, and she is more organized and less stressed around exam time. As for her all-important parenting role, Karen has embraced it with gusto, revelling in her newfound energy and enthusiasm for being a mom.
“I am 100% convinced that being in a better, more positive state of mind has contributed to my performance at school, and there is no doubt that losing weight is enabling me to do so much more with my daughter. I feel like I am really living now.”
Beware those who judge
It’s hard to believe that this inspiring and gung-ho young mom has ever been anything but optimistic but, sadly, this is not the case. Karen reveals that for most of her adult life, she felt that others unfairly judged her because of her size. She wonders whether other Biggest Loser Club members have felt the same way.
“Strangers treat me differently now and I’m sure that’s because being fat carries a social stigma,” she said. “Before, when I would go to the store, people wouldn’t give me the time of day, but now they are really helpful. It’s wrong but it’s true that big people can lose credibility in other people’s eyes. Because of that, I would never have felt comfortable being an overweight lawyer. I was determined not to let my weight limit me in terms of future job prospects.”
Karen’s top tips for weight loss:
- Don’t think about it, just do it.
- Buy a heart rate monitor for exercising.
- Invest in a good pair of running shoes.
- Use kitchen scales to take the guesswork out of calorie counting.
- Believe that you can do it. Losing weight is mind over matter.